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Quenton Meeks has a massive impact on the Stanford defense

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Quenton Meeks was really, really missed

Stanford v Notre Dame Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

After disappointing defensive and offensive performances versus the Washington schools, Stanford rebounded versus Notre Dame, and they left South Bend with a victory. Specifically, the defense led the way for the Cardinal as they were responsible for nine points. What was the difference for the Cardinal defense against the Fighting Irish? Quenton Meeks.

This year with a healthy Quenton Meeks, Stanford has gone undefeated. Against Kansas State, Quenton Meeks recorded his first interception of the year. Against USC, Quenton Meeks and company shut down star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, and against Notre Dame, Quenton Meeks had a pick six that put Stanford back in the game. With the exception of the UCLA game because he got hurt, Quenton Meeks has played a significant role in every Stanford victory. When Meeks is healthy, the Stanford secondary has held starting quarterbacks, including two potential top picks Josh Rosen and DeShone Kizer, to an average rating of 47.45. Meanwhile without Meeks, quarterbacks have a rating of 88.95. The secondary is significantly better with Meeks healthy.

With a star corner in the game, the entire defensive unit is impacted; not only is the pass defense improved, but the rush defense is improved as well. With Meeks in, Stanford controls the defensive line because the Cardinal can trust the secondary more and put more attention up front. Against Washington, the defense allowed 5.2 yards per carry, recorded one tackle for loss, and never sacked the quarterback. With Meeks in, the Stanford defense averages 3.5 yards per carry, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 3.75 sacks in a single game. Numbers clearly show the impact Quenton Meeks has on the entire defense.

Let’s look at the overall defense and points allowed. When Quenton Meeks wasn’t on the field, Washington and Washington State both scored over forty points, but when he was on the field, no team scored more than twenty. Although the Washington schools have better offenses, USC, UCLA, and Notre Dame all have respectable offenses that Stanford shut down. All three teams have been able to score at least forty points in a game multiple times, but against Quenton Meeks and Stanford, none of those three teams scored over thirteen.

Defensivley, this year is different than most. Stanford has always relied on a Blake Martinez or Shayne Skov type player, but this year, they rely on on a defensive back. The front seven has always been the core on defense, but this year, the secondary fills that role. Not having Quenton Meeks on the field would be the equivalent of missing Shayne Skov or Blake Martinez in past years. On an even brighter note, the Stanford defense will only improve when Meeks’ counterpart Alijah Holder returns from injury.

If Meeks played against the Washington schools, would it have made a difference? Probably not. Stanford got blown out in both games, and Meeks could not have possible made up for 30+ points, but Meeks’ presence definitely would have made the games much closer and much more competitive. Stanford is certainly glad to have Quenton back on the field.

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